We catch-up with former England winger, Dennis Tueart
There was a growing buzz in the office on Friday morning as we awaited the arrival of former England, Sunderland, Manchester City & New York Cosmos legend – Dennis Tueart.
Dennis was of a crop of players that relished cutting inside and striking at goal using their favored foot, often meaning switching flank, which is comparable to what the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo do so well today.
Starting out at Sunderland and then moving to Manchester City, a club which he later went onto direct, he attracted the attention of the England selectors and made his debut appearance for the first team against Cyprus in 1975. He only went onto to win 6 caps, which left most fans flabbergasted, although Dennis was never rueful and was proud to have played at all.
A few years later It was rumored he had gained admirers from within the Manchester United camp but instead he crossed the Atlantic to play for the legendary New York Cosmos at its peak between 1978 and 1979, alongside the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto, Johan Cruyff and Rivelino, before he returned back to Manchester City.
As he approached the building I could see he was clutching a large frame and as he got closer, it became obvious that within the frame, was his Admiral England shirt – brilliant!
After a firm sportsmanlike handshake and a coffee (white, no sugar), we talked to Dennis about his prolific career as a professional footballer - a career that cumulated in 467 appearances and 163 goals.
What was your best individual football memory?
“It has to be the 1976 cup final. Firstly because your career only lasts 8-12 years and you want to be as successful as you can possibly be. In 1976, to have the ability to score the winning goal that hands the trophy to your team and to your supporters in a major final at Wembley in front of 100,000 people and in spectacular fashion, was unbelievable.”
"Secondly, because although painful, it was in front of a lot of fellow Newcastle people and I felt alot of pride in being the only geordie on the pitch"
Who was the best player you played alongside?
“Franz Beckenbauer. He was so, so pedantic and particular about things. In the locker room…he had a little box he put on the side of the basin and he opened the box and in it he had a gold plated shaving bush and shaver. On the pitch, he did not give the ball away just like Carlos Alberto and his desire to win was deeply rooted – despite all of the success he had already achieved”
What do you think of the modern game?
“It has got quicker, a lot of sports science has come into it. It has different personalities in it. When I played football it was a domestic competition, but now it’s a global game. You have to understand there are different approaches in the game, there are different cultures in the game. You have to understand what football is about as a global entity and don’t be frightened of it. Enjoy it.”
“The quality of the pitches are so good, the ball is never still, when I played it got stuck in a couple of bits of mud. You couldn’t run as quickly as you can now I’m sure - with the advancement in the quality of boots and pitches in particular.”
Is there anything you would bring back?
“Probably not. I still think there are some quality players, playing. There are some fantastic skillful players - I just like to think generations move on. I still love football now as I did then, the fact I was playing was slightly different, but I still think it’s a fantastic game.”
What do you remember about Admiral?
“When they did the deal with Admiral, we thought it was very innovative…it was a barnstorming decision to actually do the deal, a bit of a benchmark that lead the way as the first commercial deal in football. Admiral was ahead of its time, really.”
“Also, being footballers we were fashion conscious and before we didn’t get a chance to be, but then all of a sudden we got something with a bit of glitzy design, with white trim on the short and white trim down the side, and the added collar to the shirt that also had a little trim on it. All of this made the Admiral shirt iconic.”
Do you have a favorite Admiral shirt?
“My first one because you always remember your debut. It was the first one we played in with a collar too. I always remember Peter Swales coming into the dressing room after the game and I remember being in my towel at the time and he said “how do you feel” and I said “I tell you what, now when my photograph goes in any sports magazine it will say in the cut at the bottom “Dennis Tueart - Manchester City and England” and I thought that was fantastic!””
Do you think England will win the World Cup soon?
I’ll tell you a story, in 1967 when I first signed for Sunderland, we had an archetypal kind of trainer who wore a flat cap. When we used to go to away games as a junior team we used to get changed in a wooden hut and he used to take a nail from his tool box and hammer into back of the door and put his flat cap on it - that was his peg. He said, “last year England won the World Cup, with not the best players, but with the best team and it will be a long time before that happens again.”
“I think the same and until we get someone who understands the culture of English football, understands the culture of English players, and perhaps we get more youth development to get our own kids through, because I think we are way short of other countries, we might stand a chance.”
“The youth centre in Burton might help, but you can’t ask kids who are 12, 13 or 14 now to be 20. You have to wait 8 or so years for that to happen. 2014, 2018, 2022 – I don’t know.”